Me and My Shadow

Here I am, reading at McGeary's

Here I am, reading at McGeary’s

I haven’t been writing much poetry lately, but I love reading at open mics, and I’ve got lots of conflicting feelings about launching my new book, so I wrote this for Poets Speak Loud, the monthly open mic at McGeary’s Tavern in Albany. The applause was music to my ears. My shadow side is set in italics.

Me and My Shadow

HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL! That’s the title of my brand new book, available at last on Amazon. My state of mind is sunny too.

Watch out, Julie. Hope is just one step shy of mania. Trust me, you don’t want to go there.

Small likelihood of that. I haven’t been manic in years.

Oh yeah? You still dream of being a best-selling author, don’t you?

Of course, but this time it’s totally within the realm of possibility. It’s not like the time I thought I’d collaborate with the President of Bard College and Robert Rauschenberg to save the Hudson Valley. A vampire soap opera thriller – how can it possibly miss?

Vampires have been done to death.

I beg to differ – they’re immortal. Hence, HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL.

There’s nothing new to say about them. Besides, your writing is pedestrian – you’re no Bram Stoker or Anne Rice.

I’m as good as the Twilight author, and a hell of a lot better than that British broad who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey.

Touche. Her writing’s an abomination and her heroine’s an idiot.

Yes, and an insult to liberated women everywhere. But reading trash that terrible gives me hope.

Cling to your pitiful delusions if you must. But soap operas are going the way of the dodo bird – they’re practically extinct.

They still have millions of fans, and that’s my biggest target audience.

Good luck with that – those soap fans don’t read books.

You’re stereotyping a bunch of people you don’t know. Anyway, lots of people don’t read books these days. Even elitist snobs like some of my so-called friends. People who claim to support the arts, but only patronize the artists vetted by the New York Times or the New Yorker. Shell out $11.00 for a friend’s book? Fuggedabout it, as Tony Soprano would say.

Hey, wait a minute, Julie. I’m your shadow side, your Debbie Downer. You’re sounding every bit as negative as me. I thought you were upbeat.

Maybe your cynicism’s catching. Or maybe it’s my Scandinavian heritage – I’m three-quarters Norwegian and one-quarter Swedish. Depression’s in my blood.

Speaking of depression, didn’t you fall into a suicidal funk after your first two books came out and failed to set the world on fire?

Yes, and I can’t afford to fall into that death spiral ever again. That’s why I’m marketing like crazy.

But you hate marketing.

Hate’s too strong a word, and marketing’s a necessary evil. I’ve got to suck it up and grin.

Good luck with that. Anyway, it seems you’re pretty stable all in all.

Maybe that comes with age. Or maybe it’s my meds. Speaking of which, my shrink may be retiring. He wants to work exclusively in nursing homes.

Hmm, that’s interesting. You’re getting up in years, are you not?

Yes, that’s why I’ve christened my publishing imprint Norse Crone Press.

So maybe you’ll get lucky and keep the same shrink when you go to a nursing home. By any chance does he work for The Eddy?

Shadow, you’ve got a warped sense of humor.

You think I’m kidding? I’m just being practical.

Practical’s for dullards. I’m way past practical, and just pissed off enough to banish you from my brain. I order you: begone.

In other words, fuck off.

At McGeary's with my husband, Robb Smith (right)

At McGeary’s with my husband, Robb Smith (right)

 

 

Conquering my Internet angst

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]Hallelujah! I just updated the signature that goes out with my e-mails, and it took me only an hour and a half to figure out how! Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, says e-mail signatures are one of the most effective and easiest ways to market your work, but for me, when it comes to internet technology, nothing comes easy.

Lest you think I’m a total ignoramus, I’ve known how to create signatures for ages, but they’ve been tiny and self-effacing, in the plain text that’s standard with Thunderbird. To promote my new book, Hope Dawns Eternal, and let people know it’s for sale on Amazon, I wanted something flashier that will jump out at viewers, and for that, Thunderbird told me I need to use – insert gasps of horror, hyperventilating and pounding heart – HTML code. For the uninitiated, that stands for hypertext markup language.

I’m proud to say I didn’t have an anxiety attack. I’ve come a long way since acute panic made me drop out of a web design course at Hudson Valley Community College a few years back. Instead, I calmly clicked on Thunderbird’s HELP menu, found the information on creating custom signatures, and printed it out for further study. Call me old-fashioned, but for truly assimilating new knowledge, I still prefer paper.

The Thunderbird tutorial took me part of the way, but my signature didn’t look right, so I Googled “HTML code beginners.” That brought up millions of hits, and some further surfing turned up what I needed to know.

<Insert break here. It’s time for General Hospital.> 

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Okay, I’m back. Luke Spencer saved one of his sons from a grisly death by defusing a bomb, only to face armed gunmen who – oh, never mind. Michael Easton, my favorite actor on GH, isn’t on this week. They’re concentrating on Luke because the actor who plays him, Anthony Geary, is retiring and moving to Amsterdam, and they want to give him a spectacular send-off. I doubt they’ll kill him, though, because he may get bored and want to come back for a visit.

But I digress. True, Hope Dawns Eternal is about soap operas, but it isn’t about General

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Hospital. The hero, Jonah McQuarry, is a police lieutenant played by the reclusive actor Mark Westgate, who used to play a vampire on a long-gone soap called Oak Bluff. When a talk show host turns up dead, drained of blood, suspicion soon falls on Mark . . . You can learn more by checking out previous posts, or still better, by reading the Prologue and Chapter One right here on this blog. Then, of course, I hope you’ll buy it.

The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the years since I published my two previous books, and indie authors like me have more opportunities than ever before. But the trick lies in learning to harness the infinite power of the Internet, and for technophobes like me, the challenge is daunting. The learning curve is steep, fraught with perils and frustrations, but I’m determined to hang in there and master at least the rudiments of self-publishing.

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

When I published Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, a small firm in Texas handled the formatting and design. They did a beautiful job, and I loved the finished product, but they took a huge percentage of whatever measly sales income I managed to accrue, and my royalty checks were minimal. Though I can probably never prove it, I’m convinced they swindled me out of some earnings.

Now, with the generous royalty arrangements available through Amazon, Smashwords and other distributors, I won’t get fooled again. By summer’s end, Eldercide and Mood Swing will be available in new editions, in a variety of e-book and paperback formats. I’ll be in total control, but the learning curve is less a curve than a raggedy zig zag line. The overall trajectory tends slowly upward, but there are lots of hidden hazards and pitfalls. Often I feel the way all those cops must have felt bushwhacking through the Adirondack woods in search of the killers Matt and Sweat, wary of ambushes and sometimes doubling back on their own tracks.

One example: The design of this blog. Notice how the headers at the top are superimposed on each other like a double exposure? I know exactly when the problem arose; it was when I changed “themes,” as WordPress calls its design templates, from “Misty Look” to “Koi.” While my blog was relatively inactive, I let it go, but recently I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it, in every way I could think of, but to no avail.

Finally I clicked on the WordPress link that says “Contact Us” and arrived at a site called “Happiness Engineers.” There I texted back and forth with a friendly fellow named Amal, who gave me all kinds of hints and suggestions to try. Alas, he couldn’t fix it either, and after a couple of hours, I thanked him for his efforts and signed off. The next day WordPress sent me an email with a questionnaire asking how the experience had been, and I didn’t answer, not wanting to get Amal in trouble.

Learning the rudiments of HTML is another challenge, but I’m hanging in there. I’ve got all summer to fine tune my marketing campaign and expand my online network. For example, once again I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, beginning around Bastille Day – but that’s a topic for another blog. Right now, I’m heading out to enjoy my shade garden and a gin and tonic.

Never too old to rock out to country music!

Keith Urban

Keith Urban

Friday night I took a nasty spill at Hunter Mountain, and I wasn’t even skiing. No, I was obeying the command of a sepulchral voice booming over the loudspeakers: “Everybody off the mountain immediately. Severe thunderstorm approaching with dangerous lightning. Get to your vehicles and take cover.”

Along with thousands of others, I was at Taste of Country, a three-day country music festival, awaiting the performance of the opening night’s headliner, Keith Urban. More precisely, I was on my way back from the portapotties, where I’d been photographing the trucks with their enormous tanks and hoses sucking out the shit while festival goers used the facilities.

At first I was too far away to understand what the voice was saying. People were

The calm before the storm. Note the man on the left with the giant hose. Shitty job!

The calm before the storm. Note the man on the left with the giant hose. Shitty job!

streaming down the hillside in droves, and when I saw the warnings on the giant video screens, I understood why. I didn’t want to abandon my folding chair and backpack, so I forged my way up the slope and packed up my gear. As I headed back down, lightning was flashing in the western sky.

The descent was orderly. No one was panicking, much less stampeding, probably in part because they’d been guzzling beer all day. But suddenly I slipped, falling hard on my left hip and thigh. I’m abundantly padded in that area, and I didn’t feel any damage, so I scrambled to my feet, with the help of a solicitous and shirtless young man who made sure I was alright.

When I reached the area of the base lodge, staff were urging people to head for their vehicles, since there was no way for the multitudes to take shelter in the buildings. But I went against the current, confronted a security guy at the entrance and played the age card: “I’m 73 years old and it’s impossible for me to get to my car in time.” He took pity on me, took hold of my arm and escorted me to a corner, where he ordered a young woman to yield her Adirondack-style chair with a back made from old fiberglass skis.

There I reclined in comfort for the next hour, reading a Joyce Carol Oates novel and sipping beer while the storm descended as threatened. The rain came down in torrents, and I could see flashes of lightening, but the thunder was drowned out by the uproar in the base lodge, coming chiefly from the drunken young men shouting and throwing beach balls, punctuated by the shrill screechy voices of young women. I was safely ensconced behind a few baby boomers who had set up their folding chairs, so I didn’t worry. Nor did anyone else; the mood was remarkably cheerful and upbeat. All in all, the event inspired confidence and hope for humanity, since most people were considerate and cooperative in a situation that could have become chaotic and dangerous. There were a few belligerent young drunks who got confrontational with each other, but the happier drunks quickly got them under control.

Keith Urban at the CMA Festival las night in Nashville.

Keith Urban at the CMA Festival las night in Nashville.

At long last the worst of the storm blew off to the east, and we were given the all-clear to go back out to the mountain. The crowd was much smaller now, and I set up camp much closer to the stage. Light rain was still falling as another half hour passed while the crew swept water off the stage and set up the equipment. The giant digital signs thanked us for our patience, and finally, at about 10:30pm, Keith Urban and his band took the stage. I feared for his safety, with all that water and electrical equipment, but he seemed unperturbed. “What’s a little rain?” he shouted as he launched into a blazingly brilliant set. A gorgeous guitar god in in his tight jeans, in a bygone era he would have been a rock star, but times change and music evolves.

I last saw Keith Urban at the Times Union Center in Albany ten years ago. His romance with Nicole Kidman was new then, and I later learned that she was there in the audience incognito, hidden beneath a hat. I’m glad their marriage has endured and that they’ve been blessed with two daughters. His music has thrived since then, and he’s a better performer, though less angsty than in his dissolute single days.

Nicole Kidman singing along to Keith's music at the CMA Festival last night.

Nicole Kidman singing along to Keith’s music at the CMA Festival last night.

But I digress. I meant to write about whether it’s age-appropriate for me to attend events like this. There were lots of people with lined faces and gray hair, but most probably younger than me. It took physical endurance and stamina to traipse on and off the mountain and hang in there for the duration, but it was a hell of a lot easier than downhill skiing. I skied many times at Hunter, but in recent years I’ve skied mostly at Jiminy Peak. Last year, because of the bitter cold, I didn’t ski at all, and I’m not sure I ever will again. Not that I’m too old, but I know my legs aren’t in the condition they used to be, so I don’t want to press my luck. On the other hand, I didn’t break my hip at Hunter, though I fell on hard rocky ground instead of cushiony snow. So who knows – I’m not giving away my skis just yet.

I’ve got lots more to say about my Taste of Country experience vis a vis aging, but I’ll save it for the next post. Please subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss it. And please leave me a comment so I’ll know you’re out there!

HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL now available on Kindle – buy it, I’m begging you!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]It’s official! Hope Dawns Eternal is available on Kindle for $2.99. It’s been five days since I successfully uploaded it, but now the trick is getting people to visit the site and buy it. I’ve got a lot to learn about that. To find it, go to Amazon, type in my name, and it should take you right there. My two previous books are there too, but I’ll be reissuing them soon with new covers at a lower price, so please hold off on buying them.

Within a few days, if I don’t succumb to my technophobia, the CreateSpace paperback version will be available as well. In the meantime, here’s the description I wrote for Kindle. I hope it whets your appetite and that you buy the book!

Can soap stars live forever? If they’re vampires, anything’s possible. In the hotbed of intrigue that is daytime television, sometimes the deadliest dramas are unscripted, and passions transcend anything the censors dare allow.

Hope Dawns Eternal is the first in a new series of romantic paranormal thrillers set at the fictional QMA television network in New York City. The novel features Jonah McQuarry, the new cop in town on the beloved soap opera Sunlight and Shadow, his lady love Abigail Hastings, and his arch-rival Tony Giordano. Played by the actor Mark Westgate, Jonah is tall and slender, with dark good looks and piercing blue eyes. Thanks to his years on Hope Dawns Eternal, a recently cancelled soap, he already has millions of fans, so the showrunners bring him along to S&S when the QMA network replaces Hope with a self-help reality show, Brand New You. 

His first day on the set, when Jonah meets the raven-haired Abby, the erotic chemistry between them is instantaneous and off the charts. Soon Jonah suspects he knew her in another incarnation, when Mark played a vampire on the long-defunct soap opera Oak Bluff and the actress who played Abby was his leading lady. 

When the host of Brand New You turns up dead and drained of blood, there’s immediate buzz about vampires, and Jonah becomes a prime suspect. Even worse, he begins to suspect himself. He’s been having black-outs, with long periods of time he can’t account for, and he’s developed a ravenous appetite for bloody rare meat. Could the reclusive Mark Westgate be suffering from dissociative identity disorder, and could Jonah be just one of several personas who inhabit the actor’s psyche? 

Tensions escalate as Jonah tangles with mobster Tony Giordano and his enforcer Mick Hastings, Abby’s dangerously possessive hulk of a husband. As Jonah’s relationship with Abby heats up, he also finds himself increasingly drawn to Gloria Kemp, an evening news anchor about to launch her own daytime show on the QMA network. She wants him as a confidant and a friend with benefits. But does she truly lust after Jonah, or is she just chasing after the most sensational journalistic coup of her career? Can Jonah trust her? More importantly, can he trust himself? As the bloodthirsty killings continue, all bets are off.

Hope Dawns Eternal is the first in a darkly humorous series of romantic paranormal thrillers featuring the characters of the last remaining soap opera on the QMA network.  Watch for the sequel, Sunlight and Shadow.

Julie Lomoe is the author of the mystery novels Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. Both books draw on her decades of professional health and home health care experience, and both explore issues of vital importance to today’s society. Eldercide focuses on the ethical dilemmas that arise when quality of life declines with age and illness, and families confront life-or-death decisions. Mood Swing features a feisty heroine with a bipolar diagnosis who confronts the stigma of mental illness while investigating mysterious deaths at a psychiatric social club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Julie attended Radcliffe College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard. She received her MFA in painting at Columbia University and exhibited widely in New York City and at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. In 1979 she received her MA in Art Therapy from New York University. Her work as a creative arts therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet for processing her feelings about spending her days on locked wards in the company of the mentally ill. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, dog and cat.

I hope that’s enough to intrigue you. As the Temptations sang all those years ago, I ain’t too proud to beg. So please, folks, hunt down and buy my book! At just $2.99, what have you got to lose but a night’s sleep?

Ready for May Day Lift Off – Hope Dawns Eternal

May Day! May Day! I’ve zeroed in on the first of May as the launch date for Hope Dawns Eternal. That gives me a few days to figure out how to upload everything to Kindle and CreateSpace. I’m thrilled with the gorgeous cover illustration by Kim Killion, and Rik Hall has finished formatting the manuscript, but I’ve still got a steep learning curve to figure out the next steps before it’s actually accessible to buyers. With my technophobia, I’m still in acute avoidance mode.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]

Now it’s high time to focus on marketing strategies. The publishing scene and especially the online opportunities have changed dramatically since I published Eldercide in 2008, and this time I swear I’ll be relentless in promoting my work, because as outlandish as it seems, my happiness seems to hinge on becoming a successful author.

My first publicity salvo was shot down almost immediately. I posted a shot of the cover to one of the soap opera fan groups I belong to, telling them how excited I was that the book would soon be available. I assured them they’d love it, since the hero is inspired by the actor the group is about. Big mistake – my post smacked of blatant self-promotion, and the group’s moderators removed it with a message warning me not to make the same mistake again, lest I be banned from the site.Caleb Morley

Fair enough, but how do I let people know about the book without being obnoxious about it? Word of mouth is reportedly the best way of creating the buzz that boosts sales, and there are multiple ways of going about it. First and foremost, I’m renewing my connections to the writers’  networks I’ve lost touch with over the years. I’ve rejoined Sisters in Crime, and I’m about to rejoin Mystery Writers of America, especially so as to get the discounted rate to their Edgar Symposium in New York City on April 28th. As a member, I’ll be able to attend their wonderful cocktail party that evening, where schmoozing with authors, editors and agents is lubricated by an open bar and bountiful hors d’oeuvres.

For the first time ever, I’ve joined Romance Writers of America and their Capital District chapter, because this book is the most romantic – even, dare I say, sexy – I’ve ever written.*

Most of all, I want to reach my primary audience – the millions of devotees of soap operas and especially of General Hospital – without being blatantly obvious about it. My fictional network, QMA, and its last remaining soaps retain only the sketchiest suggestions of the soaps and actors that I solemnly swear didn’t inspire me. (Yeah, right – if you swallow that, I’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.)

So what’s my strategy? I’ll be networking like crazy. I’ll trade guest blogs – you can be on my blog if I can be on yours. I’ll be looking for reviewers. If you like, I can send you a free advance review copy. Just leave a comment or email me at julielomoe@nycap.rr.com, and we’ll figure out the logistics.

eldercidefrontcover1Above all, I solemnly swear I won’t launch Hope Dawns Eternal into the vast black hole of oblivion that swallowed my last two novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders and Eldercide. Those mysteries basically sank without a trace, triggering major depressive episodes that laid me low for far too long, and I hope never again to experience those depths of despair. To that end, I’ll be resurrecting both novels in new online and print editions in May, or at least before the summer solstice. In the meantime, you can still buy the first editions on Amazon, but I’d rather you buy them from me directly, because I suspect the original publisher hasn’t been paying me the requisite royalties.

Speaking of money, I’m reviving my GoFundMe campaign. At the rate I’m racking up expenses, it won’t be long before I max out my credit card, and I can use all the help I can get. You could win prizes, including maybe an acknowledgment or a character named for you in Sunrise or Shadow, the sequel to Hope Dawns Eternal. For more information, check out my GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Every little bit helps, and who knows, before long you may be able to brag that you knew me when! I’ll be eternally grateful for each and every donation.

*Strictly speaking, Hope Dawns Eternal is the most romantic and sexy since The Flip Side, my unpublished first novel inspired by my work as a creative arts therapist in a mental hospital. One of these days, I may actually publish it too!

I

Here at last – Hope Dawns Eternal!

A Hope Cover 4mbAt long last the formatting and cover art are done for Hope Dawns Eternal. Now comes the daunting part – pulling it all together and publishing it! I’ve already hit my first roadblock – Kim Killion sent me five versions of the cover illustration in various jpeg sizes, but I can’t seem to copy them to display the whole thing on Facebook or here on this blog. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually, but meanwhile, I can’t resist sharing!

For the cover, I found the photos I wanted on Shutterstock, and she put them together as per my suggestions. Strangely enough, the images I chose all came from Russia or Romania. Those Slavic folks really know how to create dark, passionate art – think Rachmaninoff, Dostoyevsky and all those cats. I like this male model I found – he makes a great vampire, don’t you think? And he looks like a soap star, but not any specific one, which is a good thing.

By the way, the tag line, which is cut off at the top, is:

In a world of TV soaps, the deadliest dramas are unscripted.

I’m writing this at the Denny’s in Latham – scene of Sunday night NaNoWriMo sessions, but at 5 pm on a Wednesday, the room we usually use is totally deserted. I came here a couple of hours ago after seeing my shrink, who keeps my biochemistry on an even keel. He told me he’s phasing out his private practice, concentrating increasingly on nursing homes, and suggested it might be time for me to start shopping around for another drug dealer, aka psychopharmacologist, though he did give me an appointment for July. The fact that I took it in stride shows just how leveled out I am!

More later – I need to finish my Caesar salad, then head over to choir practice at FUUSA. I’d hoped to get in a couple of hours on Sunlight and Shadow, the sequel to Hope Dawns Eternal, and then hit the mall, but I’m running out of time. Time enough to tackle S&S when Camp NaNoWriMo starts in April.

Subscribe to this blog, and you’ll be the first to know when Hope is published – probably within the week.

 

Wanted! Advance Readers and Reviewers for HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL

Caleb MorleyHow would you like to be one of the very first to read my vampire soap opera thriller, Hope Dawns Eternal? So far, only my husband has read the entire novel. A few writers have read isolated chapters, or heard me read scenes aloud, but no one else has read it in its entirety.

I’m not looking for critiques or editorial suggestions. I welcome comments, but I’m not going to change anything – not unless someone signs me to a three-book contract and pays me lots of money upfront. My last post about why I don’t want an editor inspired some spirited discussion in some online discussion groups, particularly the one associated with the International Women Writers Guild, but I’m standing my ground for now.

Right now I’m looking for people who will commit to reading the entire manuscript and then writing blurbs or brief reviews that I can use in publicizing Hope Dawns Eternal online. If you’re really speedy, I may be able to quote you in the book itself, because I still haven’t completed the front and back material. I’m envisioning the kind of quotes you see filling the first couple of pages of a trade paperback, comments that tempt the reader to buy.  But you need to get them to me by Sunday, February 22nd, at the latest, because I’m going to send the book off for formatting next Monday. If you miss that deadline, I’d still welcome your comments for future use, but they won’t appear in the book.

Not my cover but it has the right noirish feel

Not my cover but it has the right noirish feel

Of course if you hate the book, you don’t have to write anything at all. But I welcome your opinions anyway – if nothing else, I may take them into account as I begin the next installment. You can even tell me I should have hired an editor! I especially welcome comments from published writers, and I’ll gladly include a book or series title after your name. But if you’re simply a reader, that’s fine too. And I’d love to include quotes from a few soap opera fans, because you’re the audience who will love this book the most.

So how much reading am I talking about? The manuscript stands at 78,318 words. That’s 265 pages double-spaced, typed the way you’d see them fresh out of my printer before formatting. If you’re interested, please e-mail me privately at julielomoe@nycap.rr.com. In addition, please leave a comment on this blog so that I’ll know you’re motivated enough to actually type something!

If you’d rather donate money, that’s great too. Go to www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Better still, do both! You’ll have my undying appreciation.

Woman reading summer hammock

UPDATE Saturday, February 21st. Since I published this post two days ago, I’ve changed my strategy. It’s too late to expect you to read or react to anything by Monday, and I’m not going to include blurbs in the first edition, but I’m still looking for readers – especially published writers. There’s no longer a huge rush. But please, if you’re interested, include a paragraph about who you are and why you want to read it, so that I know you’re literate. Also, I may send out just the first couple of chapters. Then, if you like it, I may send more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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